La Fontaine

Here you will find the Long Poem The Nightingale of poet La Fontaine

The Nightingale

NO easy matter 'tis to hold,
Against its owner's will, the fleece
Who troubled by the itching smart
Of Cupid's irritating dart,
Eager awaits some Jason bold
 To grant release.
E'en dragon huge, or flaming steer,
When Jason's loved will cause no fear.

Duennas, grating, bolt and lock,
 All obstacles can naught avail;
Constraint is but a stumbling block;
 For youthful ardour must prevail.
Girls are precocious nowadays,
Look at the men with ardent gaze,
And longings' an infinity;
Trim misses but just in their teens
By day and night devise the means
To dull with subtlety to sleep
The Argus vainly set to keep
 In safety their virginity.
Sighs, smiles, false tears, they'll fain employ
An artless lover to decoy.
I'll say no more, but leave to you,
Friend reader, to pronounce if true
What I've asserted when you have heard
How artful Kitty, caged her bird.

IN a small town in Italy,
 The name of which I do not know,
 Young Kitty dwelt, gay, pretty, free,
 Varambon's child.--Boccacio
Omits her mother's name, which not
To you or me imports a jot.
At fourteen years our Kitty's charms
Were all that could be wished--plump arms,
A swelling bosom; on her cheeks
Roses' and lilies' mingled streaks,
A sparkling eye--all these, you know,
 Speak well for what is found below.
 With such advantages as these
 No virgin sure could fail to please,
 Or lack a lover; nor did Kate;
 But little time she had to wait;
 One soon appeared to seal her fate.
Young Richard saw her, loved her, wooed her--
What swain I ask could have withstood her?
Soft words, caresses, tender glances,
The battery of love's advances,
 Soon lit up in the maiden's breast
 The flame which his own heart possessed,
 Soon growing to a burning fire
 Of love and mutual desire.
 Desire for what? My reader knows,
 Or if he does not may suppose,
 And not be very wond'rous wise.
 When youthful lovers mingle sighs,
 Believe me, friend, I am not wrong,
 For one thing only do they long.
 One check deferred our lover's bliss,
 A thing quite natural, 'twas this:
 The mother loved so well her child
 That, fearful she might be beguiled,
 She would not let her out of sight,
 A single minute, day or night.
At mother's apron string all day
Kate whiled the weary hours away,
And shared her bed all night. Such love
In parents we must all approve,
Though Catherine, I must confess,
In place of so much tenderness
More liberty would have preferred.
 To little girls maternal care
 In such excess is right and fair,
 But for a lass of fourteen years,
 For whom one need have no such fears,
Solicitude is quite absurd,
And only bores her. Kitty could
No moment steal, do what she would,
To see her Richard. Sorely vexed
She was, and he still more perplexed.
In spite of all he might devise
A squeeze, a kiss, quick talk of eyes
Was all he could obtain, no more.
Bread butterless, a sanded floor,
It seemed no better. Joy like this
Could not suffice, more sterling bliss
Our lovers wished, nor would stop short
Till they'd obtained the thing they sought.
And thus it came about. One day
By chance they met, alone, away
From jealous parents. "What's the use;"
Said Richard, "of all our affection?
 "Of love it is a rank abuse,
 "And yields me nothing but dejection
 "I see you without seeing you,
 "Must always look another way,
 "And if we meet I dare not stay,
 "Must ev'ry inclination smother.
 "I can't believe your love is true;
 "I'll never own you really kind
 "Unless some certain means you find
 "For us to meet without your mother."
Kate answered: "Were it not too plain
 "How warm my love, another strain
 "I would employ. In converse vain
 "Let us not waste our moments few;
 "But think what it were best to do."
 "If you will please me," Robert said,
 "You must contrive to change your bed,
 "And have it placed--well, let me see--
 "Moved to the outer gallery,
 "Where you will be alone and free.
 "We there can meet and chat at leisure
 "While others sleep, nor need we fear,
 "Of merry tales I have a treasure
 "To tell, but cannot tell them here."
Kate smiled at this for she knew well
What sort of tales he had to tell;
But promised she would do her best
And soon accomplish his request.
It was not easy, you'll admit,
But love lends foolish maidens wit;
And this is how she managed it.
The whole night long she kept awake,
 Snored, sighed and kicked, as one possessed,
 That parents both could get not rest,
So much she made the settle shake.
This is not strange. A longing girl,
 With thoughts of sweetheart in her head,
In bed all night will sleepless twirl.
 A flea is in her ear, 'tis said.
The morning broke. Of fleas and he